Reviews & Interviews  

Click here for:
Shoofly Pie to Die” press review
In Dutch Again” press reviews
“In Dutch Again” reader reviews
 Interviews with Barbara Workinger

“Shoofly Pie to Die” Press Review

Amish sleuth’s pie is deadly in atmospheric whodunit
Sunday, February 05, 2006

Of The Patriot-News

Writer Barbara Workinger has forsaken Pennsylvania for the Pacific Northwest, but the relocation has not dimmed her skill at writing another enjoyable novel about Hannah Miller, a feisty Amish grandmother and amateur sleuth.

Hannah is a world-class quilter and pie baker who teams with her formerly Amish granddaughter, Caroline, to solve murders in Lancaster County.

Workinger introduced Hannah, 70, fondly known as Granny Hanny, in her first novel, “In Dutch Again.” Hannah hones her analytical mind and learns about modern crime-solving techniques by reading mysteries borrowed from the local library.

The new novel, “Shoofly Pie to Die -- A Granny Hanny Amish Country Mystery” (AuthorHouse, $19.95), finds Hannah and Caroline, a lawyer, busy with preparations for Caroline's remarriage to her estranged non-Amish husband, Stephen.

The wedding is only two weeks away, but planning takes a back seat to sleuthing when Denny Brody, the richest and meanest man in Chelsea Twp., dies after eating one of Hannah’s shoofly pies at the Best-Stoltzfus Auction House. When tests determine the pie was laced with cyanide, Hannah finds herself under the scrutiny of the township’s incompetent police chief, Kiel Benton.

Spring is in the air in the quiet Pennsylvania Dutch countryside, but secrets simmer and more deaths follow, putting Hannah and Caroline in danger. Mystery, humor and engaging characters are the key ingredients in this tasty regional whodunit.

Workinger is a former research journalist and antiques dealer who has an interest in quilting. She lived in Derry Twp. before she and her husband moved to suburban Portland, Ore., to be near their adult children.

MARY O. BRADLEY: 255-8147

Copyright 2006 The Patriot-News.
Used with permission.

“In Dutch Again” Press Reviews

‘Workinger . . .  has fashioned a tip-top local murder mystery, so “otten” the lights, curl up and enjoy this 164-page novel at vonct. It's vonderful goot fun.’
Mary O. Bradley,
The Patriot News,
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

click here for the complete review

The first paragraph of Barbara Workinger’s book sets the stage for a great character in the midst of mystery. The story spins around an interesting setting in Amish country. Not only does the reader enjoy an exciting story, but also receives an understanding of Amish life. “Granny Hanny” is a nice person to know.
Judy West,
Professional Book Reviewer
(former Reading Coordinator for Broken Arrow Schools), Broken Arrow/Tulsa, OK

“In Dutch Again” Reader Reviews

Original and charming characters without being sterotypes or sticky-sweet. Mystery zipped right along and had me surprised at the end! Great job!
—  Pat,  Philadelphia, PA

I really loved the book, Barb. I'm a Janet Evanovich fan and your spirited Granny Hanny is a lot like Granny Mazur except Hanny is smarter and even more of a take charge lady, but she is a one-of-a-kind like Granny Mazur. Hanny and Caroline make a great team, but it’s Hanny who goes where angels fear to tread to solve the complex mystery. I couldn’t put it down! Encore, encore. Please!
— Nan Nye,  Central Pennsylvania

Loved In Dutch Again, and as soon as Shoo-Fly-Pie to Die comes out I plan on purchasing it also. We have a rather large Mennonite community where I live and I see links between the Amish and Mennonite communities. Love your writing and thank you for the book plate.
— Sarah Rhoten, Southwestern Kansas

I discovered your delightful book because one of the characters has my name, Caroline Miller, and a friend told me about the book. She was enthusiastic about it and now, so am I! I am anxious to see what happens to my namesake -- (or am I hers?) in the next book in the series. Do write on, Barbara; I love your style! In Dutch Again is a intriguing mystery with all the right elements to make a great read!
PS: I am from England and the Amish are of much interest there. Hope you will be published in GB.
— Caroline Miller,  New York, NY

I ordered the book from internet and really found it so enjoyable! I saw there will be a sequel. Count me in as a buyer. As a matter of fact, I can’t wait! Thanks, Barbara, for writing the kind of book I love!
— Tansie Morrish,  California

I’d give the book four out of four stars. It was so enjoyable! I loved the character of Granny Hanny and Carrie, her sidekick, was a perfect compliment. This seuthing duo makes a great team. I appreciated the Amish background, the humor and the suspense. More please!
Tara S. Burke,  Richland, WA

I loved the book!!! Anxious for sequel to come out now. Characters so interesting, so is setting. My friend called it a comfort book. She snuggled under her comfort[er] and read it all because she couldn’t put it down. She is right - I couldn’t wait to finish and then was sorry it was over. thank you
Jennifer Jo Moore,  Wilmington, DE

I have read your book and I loved the plot. You held me in suspense until the end. You also made me homesick for Lancaster where I spent 3 years. It was great fun to remember the places you mentioned. Granny Hanny was a wonderful character. Thanks for a suspenseful story. When do you have another to read?
Sally Schamp,  Michigan

In Dutch Again is a wonderful book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’d say you know how to keep one in suspense. I was truly surprised at the outcome. It was a fun read, too. Granny Hanny is so spirited! I know lots of Amish and you are right on the mark with your details.
Sandy,  Dennison, Iowa

The sense of place was amazing in this fast paced cozy. I have visited the Pennsylvania area and the vivid scenes brought it all back just as I remember it. The book was very well plotted with really believable and engaging characters I could identify with and root for. The main character, quilter (and closet mystery reader), Hannah Miller is aided by her formerly Amish granddaughter, Caroline, who has become a local lawyer. Hannah is determined and resourceful in solving the murder of her neighbor, antique dealer Annette Adams. Even after a second body is discovered, Hannah is unwavering in her quest to find Annette's killer, despite knowing the murderer is getting closer to her. The other characters, both Plain People and non-Amish are unique and believable. The author mixes menace with a dash of humor in the book. I really enjoyed the vivid and accurate depiction of the Amish people and their world. It all adds up to a really original mystery.
E.C.; Florida

Loved this book. The author has all the details just right. The plot has twists and turns in all the right places and the characters are perfect.and natural in their development and motivation They are just quirky enough to be fascinating. The detective, Granny Hanny, is resourceful, bright and relentless. The autumn setting is like a character itself-well drawn and realistic. It’s hard to find a truly original mystery, which is also thoroughly enjoyable. “In Dutch Again” is both!
Kathy; Lancaster, PA

Interviews with Barbara Workinger

Amish provide grist for Oregon author’s novels
Published: September 27, 2006
Central Coast Currents

With two mystery series to her credit, author Barbara Workinger has only one regret: “I wish I’d done it 30 years ago,” she said.

“If you’re a young person — or any age person — who wants to write a book ‘someday,’” emphasized Workinger, “I have only one thing to say:

“Start today.”

She says one of her own coldest reality checks happened at a writers group. “They’d been meeting for 20 years,” she said, “and no one had ever published a thing. One woman had been writing a travel journal for 25 years, and she hadn’t done anything with it.”

Workinger vowed to do better by her writing. She wrote her first novel upon moving to Pennsylvania Dutch country 20 years ago.

“It was a romance that became a romantic suspense, and it numbered 700 pages,” said Workinger. “Like most first books, it was sink sludge going down the drain before the water will run clear....  I got it out of my system, and it is still in some drawer, where it will stay.”

She doesn’t regret the time she lavished on the romance, because in the process she learned something about herself as a writer.

“Everything I tried to write turned out a mystery,” said Workinger, so she decided to become a mystery writer.

“It was all I ever read, anyway,” she said.

The minute she got focused, doors opened. She found an agent via a friend (who of all things had read her discarded romance novel). And she got an idea that has subsequently provided her not one but two popular mystery series. “I had an interest in the Amish,” said Workinger, “and where we were living, we were surrounded by them. Writing about them and a mystery seemed a good thing to do.”

A former researcher for United Press International, she took her fact gathering seriously — going back to college to take a class on the Amish and reading 175 books on the subject. “The more I got to know the Amish, the more I respected them and the more I wanted to write about them” she said. “No Amish person had any problem with that as long as I got the facts right.”

“I learned they have a culture like no other,” said Workinger. “No other people are just like them. My books (“In Dutch Again,” “Plain and Deadly”) are a peek into a society you would otherwise never have” — with a little mystery on the side.

* * * *

Plain Mysteries Intrigue Local Writer
Staff Writer Lebanon (PA) Daily News

All Granny Hanny intends to do is to deliver one of her fancy quilts to a neighbor in her Amish community in Lancaster County. When there is no answer at the door, the feisty grandmother pushes it open only to discover her friend lying dead on a stair landing with a butcher knife plunged deep into her chest.

That’s how author Barbara Workinger begins “In Dutch Again”, the first in a series of at least three mystery novels featuring Hannah Miller, “an energetic, mystery reading Amish grandmother” who solves crimes with the help of her granddaughter, Caroline, an attorney.

Workinger, born and raised near San Francisco, Calif., and who is a grandmother herself, admitted falling in love with the Amish culture shortly after moving to the area.

“When I move anywhere I start driving around and learning where I am and I kept getting into the Amish country,” she said. “I wanted to find out about it without intruding. I took classes at Elizabethtown College and talked to people for 10 years before I started writing. I was so wrapped up in the research I thought I would never get to the writing!”

A former technical writer and researcher and fact-checker for United Press International and a former antiques dealer, Workinger spent about nine months completing the 165-page novel, which was published last September.

“I love mysteries and thought maybe I could come up with a good one,” she said. “I met (an actual) ‘Granny Hanny’ in the Amish country,” she said. She thought the name was so good that she included it in the book.

Although Workinger admitted to taking “a little literary license” with her character, she also insisted that there’s nothing in the book an older Amish woman couldn’t do in real life.

“She doesn’t resort to violence; her only weapons are her sharp wit, insatiable curiosity and she’s very intelligent,” Workinger said. But, she added with a touch of humor, “if a real person stumbled across every single body that Granny Hanny does, there wouldn’t be anybody left in the area!”

“This is not a hard-edged mystery,” she added. “There’s a lot of humor in it. It’s a gentle book, a cozy mystery . . .  that a middle school kid could read and it would be OK.”

A sequel, “Shoefly Pie To Die,” is due out early next year, while “Seven Sweets, Seven Sours,” which might be the final volume, will go to the printer toward the end of 2004. In a departure from other mysteries, the series also offers recipes in its closing pages.

“I won two recipe contests . . .  so that’s one of my hobbies,” Workinger explained. “Dutch” includes a recipe for coconut cake, “the cake served at a traditional Amish wedding,” she added. “All the recipes have been tested by me and several friends.”

Workinger, who has written magazine articles and columns about antiques and coins “I began collecting coins, which was a bad thing because I’m much better spending them,” she quipped exhibits an infectious sense of humor.

Susceptible to allergies, she declared, “I’m going to wrap myself in crime scene tape I have a roll with only my eyes showing. I’m going to wrap it really tight."

But while Workinger tries to avoid allergic reactions, she enjoys mysteries, admitting that she has read them from the age of 6. Her next series of books, mysteries that are also set in Lancaster, will involve investigator Ellerie March and sidekick Rosie Fox, a former big band singer. The first in the as-yet-unpublished series is entitled “Plain and Deadly.”

Books are an integral part of Workinger’s life, the works of other authors having become like old friends.

“I have a large collection of mysteries,” she said. “(But) I read everything, three or four books, fiction and nonfiction, a week.”

Currently her focus is on developing the “Granny Hanny” series. One Amish friend, who read the “In Dutch Again” manuscript, had a few suggestions, but told Workinger that the Amish “don't mind being written about as long as you’re accurate,” said Workinger.

“I do make it very clear in the book that this is not your typical Amish woman,” she added. “I never put her in a violent situation or take her out of her Amish dress.”

“In Dutch Again” Press Review
(Complete Version)

Area author pens mystery
about amateur Amish sleuth


Sunday, January 26, 2003

Of The Patriot-News

Hannah Miller is a spunky Amish grandmother who reads murder mysteries borrowed from the local library in Lancaster County.

Fondly known as “Granny Hanny,” the spry 70-year-old enjoys making quilts, and, in her spare time, helping her formerly Amish granddaughter, Caroline, who is now a lawyer, solve real-life crimes.

When well-known local antiques dealer Annette Adams is stabbed to death, Hannah and Caroline fear the incompetence of Chelsea Twp.’s acting police chief, Kiel Benton, will hinder the search for the culprit, so they set out to solve the case in Barbara Workinger’s whodunit, “In Dutch Again: An Amish Country Mystery” (1stBooks Library, $8.50).

Compounding the mystery is the unsolved disappearance of Annette’s husband, Bob Adams, who vanished three months earlier.

Annette’s twin sister, Jennet, a famous fashion commentator with a television program, returns home with Ian Hunter, a British journalist working for NBC television. Throw into the mix Annette’s ex-husband, Peter Drew, their rebellious teenage daughter, Kaitlin, and Annette’s neighbors, the unmarried snoopy sisters Annie and Sadie Shoop, and the list of suspects is longer than the line at an Amish quilt sale.

Ready in the wings to help Hannah and Caroline is Caroline’s estranged husband, Stephen Brown, who gave up a law career to take over the family hardware store.

Workinger, a California native who lives in Derry Twp., has fashioned a tip-top local murder mystery, so “otten” the lights, curl up and enjoy this 164-page novel at vonct. It's vonderful goot fun.

MARY O. BRADLEY: 255-8147

Copyright 2003 The Patriot-News.
Used with permission.

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